Onward and Forward to 2021
It has been quite a year for all of us. Let's face it, anyone reading this has not been through a pandemic before. We might have read about it or watched documentaries to try and understand past history, but this is mentally draining both from a personal perspective and a business perspective. This post deals from a business side as there are lots of information on dealing with the pandemic from a personal side.
As a business owner or leader, you not only have to worry about the safety and wellbeing of your family, but also the safety and wellbeing of your organization while at the same time help customers get through an environment that no one has been through before.
From a business standpoint, RedBit focuses on helping organizations leverage technology to help move forward. 'Technology' can be defined as building cloud first web/mobile software products, automating business processes to improve operations, IT security, software security, software development best practices but can also be as simple as adopting tools to work remotely.
All this can be thought of as a digital journey for an organization, as adopting technology is not an overnight thing and could possibly take months and sometimes even years! When it comes to digital transformation or upgrading to the latest technology, every business has its own pace that works best for them.
This pandemic has accelerated the journey for pretty much everyone and this tweet from March 30,2020 sums it up
For RedBit, it has been a successful year even though we are still in a pandemic and think a big factor of that is we have always been a remote friendly environment. We have helped existing and new customers leverage technology, won a global award with Microsoft and worked together as a team to support each other get through a situation that no one has ever been through.
Next few sections are things I believe organizations need to look at to have a successful 2021. It is a new world and as human beings and businesses we need to adapt to move forward.
While working on a few projects last year, we realized that most of our customers had a maximum of 1-5 year plan, if they had a plan at all. With the pandemic, customers have had to strategize and implement that digital journey in pretty much 6 months to stay operational. A comment on the tweet above sums it up nicely
Digital transformation is not a term I use a lot but is something every organization has been forced to do. Why? What we are currently going through because of the pandemic has forced organizations to change the way they work.
If technology is not set up the right way, simplest of things can get complex like sharing flies easily and securely or even selling products/services online. Adopting digital technology does not have to be complex or a drawn- out process as many often think it to be. Depending on your organization, size of the workforce and with the right support, it can be simple.
The first thing that needs to be done is to take an assessment of your digital technology. This can be from email, online meeting software, talking to your team about the challenges they are having, to analyzing what competitors are doing are some areas to look at. As an example, see our success story on how War Child Canada went through our Cloud Adoption Discovery and they are well on their way.
If you want to look further into this, for small & medium business see Digital Main Street and their 'Digital Transformation Plan' and for large enterprises sources like IT Roadmap for Digital Business Transformation from Gartner might be useful. You can also contact us about our Cloud Adoption Discovery where we help you through the process of adopting cloud.
Adopt the Cloud
What does 'Adopting the Cloud' mean? It can mean many things depending on your organization and how far along you are on your digital journey.
It could be as simple as you don't need an on premises Exchange Server and can adopt things like Microsoft 365 to get enterprise grade email at a monthly per user cost.
It could also mean moving parts of your IT infrastructure to the cloud but this does not mean you get rid of your IT team. Even though your infrastructure is in the cloud you still need someone to manage that infrastructure.
If your organization has built custom apps and maybe they run on Virtual Machines (VMs) within your datacenter, 'app modernization' might be a good path. A complete 'rewrite' of your custom software is not always feasible, so you need a strategy to adopt cloud native technology and slowly deprecate the legacy technology. This will allow the system to grow as your organization grows and as an example, see what we have done with Spently where we helped adopt cloud native functionality in Microsoft Azure and reducing monthly costs.
Both provide ecommerce capabilities and both allow you to get that web presence. With the lockdowns happening globally, it's imperative that a web presence is there for business survival. See how we helped Evan Supply where large customer deal flow was done via conferences but expanding digital presence using Webflow allowed them to continue new customer deal flow.
Automating processes within organization will drastically help in a remote first world. At the beginning of the pandemic, RedBit shut down the office and moved to fully remote.
As we slowly opened up the office, a few people came back but regulations required us to log people coming in and out of office and have approval by managers. To help with this we automated the process to comply with regulations. You can read about it here. You can also look at using tools like Zapier or Power Platform to automate those business processes.
If you are building custom software, you also want to look at automating your development processes and not rely on one single developer to 'publish to production' and have testing and staging environments automatically spun up and torn down in your cloud environment. Tools such as GitHub Actions can help you automate your development processes.
How do you determine what to automate?
The best way to determine what to automate is to look at repetitive processes within your organization.
For example, to comply with Ontario COVID regulations and people coming to office, we had to ask a series of 'yes' and 'no' questions and then reviewed by someone to give access to office. This is a repetitive task that can be automated by looking at the 'yes' and 'no' answers given.
Look for established processes and tasks within those processes to automate. If you find yourself scheduling time in your calendar weekly to 'get something done', this might be a good candidate for automation. Here is an article the team wrote on Saving Money through Automation which might be useful.
No Code and Low Code
Although RedBit builds custom software end to end, we also adopt low code/no code tools such as Webflow, Shopify & Microsoft Power Platform for and with customers. One example is where we implemented a Power Automate with custom mobile app to provide discounts
Low code and No Code is such a big topic, but if you don't have a development team or IT team, this is something you will want to research for your organization. If you are looking to automate processes work with a consulting company like RedBit who is a Power Platform partner and has helped customers leverage the platform. Make sure to work with someone that has done it before to get you started properly as you don't want to suffer from 'technical debt'.
Please join us on our social channels in February as we share more insights and information on this topic. If you have anything to add to the conversation or need support with low code/no code, please feel free to reach out to us here.
Wellbeing of Team
As an organization, your team is your greatest asset, even greater than the physical assets or even some 'intellectual property' assets as they help you execute your mission.
Organizational leaders need to help teams get through things, understand that there is more that is going on than what is going on at work. People may be having challenges at home and leaders need to give the team the ability to take care of family life. If you give your team the freedom to do this, they will get their actions and tasks done and most will go beyond 'their tasks'.
The team has written about this and here are two articles that might provide some insight RedBit’s Top 5 Picks for Digital Detoxification and Workplace Wellness and Wellbeing. Microsoft has also published an article on tools to help boost wellbeing and soothe working from home stresses and tips from top wellbeing and people experts.
Continue to Build
As an organization you have to continue to build, if you do not you get run over by competitors. Whether that is adopting no/low code solutions, building full blown software products using proper development processes as an organization you must continue to build your services, your products for your customers.
It's definitely been a unique 2020 but here is to 2021 and what it brings us!